In Orthodoxy, we often tease one another – especially new converts – about the names of Saints. Nothing irreverent is intended by it, just a bit of humor. The new convert is threatened with being given an obscure and unpronounceable saint as his patron. In some parishes it is an ongoing joke at Trapeza – “Let’s see, Jack, how about Mercurios? or Eustratios? or Anempodistos, or how about Barsanuphius? Pattie, you might want Nymphodora, or Callisthene?” Suggestions go on and on until the poor convert is beside himself (or herself).
And such a pair we celebrated today: Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius of Ephesus! In our modern American world, we can’t relate to these names. They sound foreign and comical to us. But wait! Wait until you hear what these two people did!!
Onesiphorus was a disciple of St. Paul, and is mentioned in the Epistle to Timothy. Porphyrius was his servant. They were sent to the Iberian peninsula (Spain) as missionaries. This was under the persecutions of Diocletian. They were discovered and were tortured by being beaten and burned, but they didn’t deny Christ. They were dragged over stones by wild horses, but did not deny Christ. They died during the torture by the horses. Believers gathered the remains of the Saints and reverently buried them.
Troparion – Tone 4
Thy holy martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius, O Lord, / through their sufferings / have received incorruptible crowns from Thee, our God. / For having Thy strength, they laid low their adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. // Through their intercessions, save Thou our souls!
Kontakion – Tone 2
The pair of glorious martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius, / endured their suffering with strength, / dashing down to the earth the arrogance of the enemy, / and shining with the grace of the uncreated Trinity; // together with the angels, they unceasingly pray for us all.